May 16, 2019 / 6:24 PM / 3 months ago

Fed may not be able to engineer higher inflation: Kashkari

President of the Federal Reserve Bank on Minneapolis Neel Kashkari listens to a question during an interview in New York, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve should not cut interest rates unless there is hard data signaling economic weakness ahead, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said on Thursday, and should not rely on a rate cut to try to kickstart a healthier level of inflation.

“I am not sure that cutting rates would do much to inflation expectations,” Kashkari told reporters after giving a talk in Santa Barbara, California. “It might take some surprise, that maybe wage growth all of a sudden does pick up, and then that leads to high inflation, and then importantly we shouldn’t respond very much, to allow that to go above target.”

He added, “I don’t think it’s completely in our control getting inflation back to 2%.”

Kashkari, who does not vote this year on monetary policy, said that while wages are picking up, it is not enough to suggest that inflation is on the cusp of a sudden increase. As long as wage growth remains in check, he asked, “why tap the brakes” with an interest rate increase?

“We can always raise rates” if wages, and inflation, start to rise too fast, he said.

Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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